The United States is among a handful of countries with a minimum legal drinking age of 21. Most other countries have set the minimum drinking age at 18 years old.
President Reagan signed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984, obliging all states to make 21 the legal drinking age or face a 10 percent reduction in their federal highway funding otherwise. As of 1995, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have complied.
Minnesota lawmakers, however, have been toying with the idea of changing the state’s legal drinking age back to 18 years old. Phyllis Kahn, state representative, has been trying to lower the drinking age for several years. Now, she has proposed two bills related to the legal drinking age.
The first bill allows people over 18 years of age to be served alcohol in restaurants and bars. She reasons that by serving alcohol to young adults, they would learn to drink socially and responsibly in public and reduce their chances of binge drinking. She also states that bar and restaurant sales would increase, thus boosting the economy.
Kahn’s other bill allows underage individuals to drink in restaurants and bars, provided that a parent or guardian who is of legal age accompanies them.
A part of the objection to Kahn’s previous efforts have been based on the federal law that threatened a 10 percent loss of federal highway funding if the drinking age was not moved to 21 years old. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the federal government can no longer withhold state funding from those who stray from federal recommendations.
Supporters of the bills assert that numerous 18- to 20-year-old individuals already drink on college campuses, house parties, and similar environments, and that making alcohol legally available to their age group could possibly lower the appeal of drinking and breaking the law.
The present minimum drinking age merely leads young people to experiment with alcohol in areas that are unsafe and unmonitored, and leads to a high rate of binge drinking among their peers. With a lower legal drinking age in Minnesota and even the U.S., there will be less stocking up on illegal liquor and clamoring for fake IDs.
Schools and many organizations tend to focus on educating young adults to abstain from alcohol. This form of education is perceived by many to be far less effective compared to programs that encourage drinking responsibly.
Critics, however, are quick to point out studies that show a relationship between increased underage drunk driving accidents and a lower drinking age. The National Highway Traffic Highway Administration and MADD estimate that having a legal drinking age of 21 saves roughly 900 lives each year. They also state that alcohol can be particularly damaging to the adolescent brain, and that drinking alcohol early on may lead to addiction and abuse during adulthood.
If approved by the Minnesota legislature, these bills will take effect in August of this year. Retail sales of alcohol would still be banned for individuals under 21 under both proposed bills.
Source: Proposed Bill Would Lower Drinking Age in Minnesota, published on http://www.fox21online.com/news/local-news/Proposed-Bill-Would-Lower-Drinking-Age-in-Minnesota/31103314.